The 6th generation planes are becoming more and more frequent, although, by and large, the 5th generation cars have not shown themselves in any way. But if you analyze the requirements for such devices, it turns out that the 6th generation aircraft is impossible…
Let’s start with the fact that the aircraft, in order to have the right to be called a true machine of the next generation, must have in all respects devices and devices with the properties of the next generation. That’s ideal, of course. But in a sinful practical life, we will agree, at least on the basic elements fundamentally new qualities should be present. Let’s say speed, electronics, weapons. Resolutely beyond the previous possibilities.
Moreover, this is, in principle, inevitable and should work. Let’s say that switching to hypersonic speeds will require a new engine, the new fuel energy, the new layout, and so on. Or a new, for example, laser weaponry puts fundamentally different requirements again to energy, protection, maneuverability, management. That is, again – new materials for the case, withstanding both strong heating when moving on hypersonic, and thermal laser impact; New on-board electronic equipment with new detection and, most importantly, protection; new means of manoeutics in case of air combat with lasers, which again requires fundamentally new means of control and, crucially, reflection. That is, the combat vehicle should have time to think about how to defend and where to pull to minimize the consequences of the impact, inflicted at the speed of light!
Just don’t ask how this can be done. But there is an undeniable need for activities such as, say, the infantryman’s need to protect himself from a bullet. This means that such means and ways of protection will be developed.
What do we see today as a potential 6th generation aircraft? This was discussed in the past material. And best of all these requirements depicted in his aphoristic, metal cast phrase Director-General of the State Research Institute of Aviation Systems (GosNIIAS) Sergey Khokhlov:
The main difference from the fifth generation will be that in the basic version of the sixth-generation fighter is supposed to be unmanned. The possibility of piloting is optional. All other characteristics are the further development of existing ones: even faster, more maneuverable, even more imperceptible, and so on.
We will not disassemble this maxim, it has already been done. Let’s add only that about the same say representatives of all the firms of the planet involved in the conceptual appearance of the next generation of machines. The main thing for everyone is that the pilot may not be in the cockpit. The rest is optional: who is talking about the flying wing scheme, who is talking about composite materials, who is about invisibility…
So it’s time to demand from the basement of the real “Humpback” to formulate the qualities that the new generation of apparatus really should have. What, let us remind you, by all reasonable logic means not “more” but “wow!” not “even faster” but “wow, this is speed!” and not “still invisible” but “wow, where is the plane?” That’s where it starts…
You can start with invisibility. “Even more invisible” is good. But in our Russian laboratories is not what is being developed, and has already created an experimental radio optic (a.aka radio photon) radar, as Tsargrad told. By the way, as announced – for the 6th generation fighters. Details, of course, are classified, but one thing is already clear and obvious: the radar-based on such a radio-optical phased antenna grille (ROFAR) completely buries all current stealth technologies. With all their squeezing and jumping. The pilot will not only see all today’s quasi-Invisibles but see them almost live, in high resolution and approximation, determining not only the type of device and its armament but the expression of the face of the pilot opposing him. Although no, on that mask will be…
So, that’s it: the plane won’t be any more subtle.
On. Crucially, without which no characteristic of the future properties of the new generation – speed will be without. The speed of the current aircraft of the 5th generation: f-35 – 850 km/h cruising and 1930 km/h – the maximum, the Su-57 – 2100 km/h cruising (non-for sale), 2600 km/h – maximum. This is, respectively, 1.6 and 2.45 Mach at the maximum (rounding, 530 and 800 m/s).
So, if we are talking about a true transition to a new stage of development, then for 6th generation cars should be characterized by speeds already beyond the hypersonic range – that is, 5 Makhov (6000 km/h). There’s nothing sensational about it: hypersonic missiles are already there, hypersonic planning units are there, too. From the latter, as we understand it, one step to the plane is still the same flying wing scheme.
Let’s leave aside the necessary to protect against the huge temperature of the Sun’ surface. If it is available for hypersonic gliders and missiles, there will be for aircraft. Let’s not talk about the electronics running at this speed – it is also clearly available.
Not only that to control the aircraft at these speeds both must undergo revolutionary changes. Because the coating for the glider or rocket can be quite combustible, just slowly. It’s not a pity, he’s still dead when he’s in contact with the target. But for a reusable aircraft, it should be reusable. And not as on the American “shuttles” when it had to be replaced after each flight, which made those “shuttles” on weight not even gold, and some polonium. It’s permanent. And reliable, because one in four aircraft can’t be lost because of a damaged heat-defense plate-like Columbia, no military command can afford. And, of course, electronics. It is one thing to control the relatively chaotic movement of hypersonic munitions, withstanding only the direction to the target. Another is to make maneuvers in the form of aerobatics when repelling, for example, a complex attack with small homing missiles and laser weapons, while scattering false targets, blocking some kind of energy shield and firing anti-missiles.
In general, already from this extremely simplified and approximate description of only the initial requirements for the new generation of aircraft and the consequent requirements for technology, it is clear that in reality humanity is only getting closer to the creation of a truly new generation Aircraft. Yes, humanity is still approaching these frontiers, but when they will be achieved – it is still a question. But there is another link along the way that fundamentally does not meet the requirements for this new weapon. Weak link.
In fact, let’s just put the person in the requirements outlined above. Let’s say speed. According to years of research based on such a billion-dollar mass of people as drivers of motor vehicles, the normative time of perception of a difficult situation corresponds to 0.8 seconds. The best – 0.3 s. we will not be greedy, let the pilot determine the change of situation, requiring his reaction for 0.3 s. That is, his plane during this time will fly exactly half a kilometer. And so, the situation that required a reaction remained in another part of the space, and here, perhaps, it is waiting for some murderous thing …
Well, it’s not the person who reacts, it’s the automation. Makes some not yet known, but clearly necessary in the future anti-laser maneuver. Changes the trajectory of the plane. There is an overload. Overload is a vector value. At 1666 m/s, a 90-degree change in the movement vector in 0.3 seconds means a negative acceleration of the same 500 meters per second per second. Roughly – but we have enough – it turns out 50 g, i.e. accelerations of free-fall near the Earth’s surface. It is worth recalling that a person in the direction of the head – the legs withstand strains no more than 3-5 g. Overload in the direction of the spin – chest trained pilots in anti-overload suits take out (without disability, it must be emphasized) in the scale of minus 3 g to plus 12 g. This is when performing aerobatics, emphasize again, for in some emergency situations the cosmonauts withstood (there was a case) – up to 26 g. But it is a fraction of a second in an emergency landing, and not in the course of an air battle, where congestion goes one behind another, but the pilot needs to maintain the ability to respond to the surrounding reality. It is known that our Su-57 is designed for overloading up to 10 g, and this can be considered the limit beyond which such a complex technique as an airplane can not go, and most importantly – the technique in which sits a living person.
And this is despite the fact that we have not yet taken up the consideration of issues related to the ability of a person to respond quickly and adequately to a huge array of fast-moving information, to choose the right decision in a critical situation, to withstand psychological Load. These are problems, in general, eternal, characteristic of each military.
So what’s going on? And it turns out that the real planes that meet the real requirements of the 6th generation, the presence of a pilot in them simply … Contraindicated! And when today the designers say that the presence of the pilot in the car will be “optional”, they tell either not the whole truth, or prepare public opinion for the fact that the pilot will not be there at all. As the weakest element of the design.
But then there’s one more thing. It turns out that there will be no 6th generation aircraft at all! What plane is without a pilot? A pilotless aircraft is called an unmanned aerial vehicle, a UAV.
Of course, they must be invented, designed and prepared for the challenges of the coming war. But it will be generations of UAVs. But not planes. The evolution of combat aircraft is over.